Lately, I have run into a few examples of a Christian behavior that must surely puzzle the vast majority of people who are not followers of Jesus Christ. It is the tendency of some Christians to fervently seek to convert other Christians to their beliefs about ______________(fill in the blank). Can we find any Biblical justification for doing this? Even as I write that sentence, I have to cringe because one of the recent examples of this behavior came from a post I wrote about sticking to the Bible itself. From what I can gather, mostly by guessing since the person never answered most of my direct questions, I attracted the attention of an online personality who is intent on proving to the world that John didn’t write the fourth gospel and that believing that he did is tantamount to heresy? or false doctrine? or maybe endangers your eternal salvation or something. Even when I told him that I agreed with him, he continued to badger me because I suppose I didn’t agree enough. What this was supposed to accomplish is beyond me and I tried to find out what the author of those comments wanted to accomplish, but it went as one of those unanswered questions.
Internet Monk recently had a run-in with a similar type of individual and had some words that resonated with me on the subject.
The sort of person who chases down some phrase like “contemplative prayer” and then goes to battle in the comment threads of all guilty blogs seems to me like someone with issues. I’m sure the parties involved see it as a form of evangelizing the apostate community, so I’m glad to occasionally provide a brief but fleeting target.
His original post was a question about the state of spiritual formation in the evangelical world that was generating some wonderful ideas and discussion before it was invaded by someone with a misplaced sense of sarcasm and “helpful” ideas. I totally recommend checking out the post and the resulting discussions generated there as there are some very helpful ideas and thoughts.
But back again to the original thought. This type of behavior doesn’t just occur in the blogsphere. From looking around evangelicalism and American Christianity in particular, it is apparent that a great number of churches are committed to drawing as big a crowd as possible. Add in the “consumer” mentality of many in American society, and you find a great number of believers who end up “church shopping” and a large number of churches looking to attract these “customers”. It is simply another version of seeking and “saving” the found that I am referring to in this post. And yes, I have seen it in practice. When a church in town starts having trouble or the pastor leaves, you hear people from other churches invite the people in that congregation to come to their church. Or better yet, there are people who have made it their life’s mission to convert people to the Catholic church from Protestant churches and vice versa.
I had a man here in town ask me a couple of weeks ago what the difference was between my church and the church he is attending. I told him that as far as I knew, we had a lot more in common than not. We both believe that the Bible is God’s Word and it is true. We both believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only way to have eternal life is to turn from our way of doing things and living life and follow His (Jesus) way. That would be repent and place your trust in Jesus Christ and make Him Lord of your life in Christianese(lest someone find another reason to jump on me for this post). Beyond that, we do our missions differently. I am pastoring an SBC church so we give to the cooperative program and also some other more local mission work. Their church doesn’t do that at all, but rather funds missionaries more directly I believe. We probably have a few differences of opinions on the specifics of the sacraments if you will, and I know they follow the church calendar and we don’t really pay it much attention. But if you really look at the big picture and get down to the basics, we both agree where it matters most: Jesus!
Maybe we could be spending our time and energy better. I am sure we could. If we are looking for someone to save, maybe we can try a person who doesn’t know Christ as Lord and Savior already.